We cannot change the past. We cannot change the things that have happened to us, but it is within our power to decide what type of future we will experience. We often spend too much time going over past experiences, often the bad ones. “That person said or did such-and-such to me!” This is a waste of valuable time and changes nothing. What we do have control of is “where to from here.”
The cultivation of a more spiritual approach to life can really change our experience of life going forward. But what do we need to do, to experience that? How do we make better choices that produce better outcomes?
That is the subject of this talk.
Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
In the program that we run in the prisons, usually on the first interaction with a group, we usually ask them to reflect on the reality that where we find ourselves today, it is because of decisions that we made and actions that we took. And of course, in that kind of environment, it’s sort of like really, really obvious.
But in our own life, it’s often not as obvious. It’s sometimes hard to connect the dots between what I’m experiencing in my life right now and the choices that I’ve made, the decisions that I’ve made, the actions that I’ve taken in my life. There is a tendency for almost all people to blame unhappiness or misfortune or difficulty on someone else. “It’s because of what they did to me,” or because of this situation or that situation. There is an actual strong tendency to not take ownership of our current state and our experience of life.
I think something that really points it out quite graphically is how people don’t connect their life choices and things like social media usage and the values that we adopt, our truth that we cling to, we don’t actually connect that with feelings of emptiness or purposelessness or unhappiness, or worse, even mental health issues and depression. And yet there is a direct correlation between my choices, what I’m doing, what I value, what I hold to be important—and a lot of that stuff has been actually foisted on me. I may think that I voluntarily adopted a lot of things because I tend to agree with it. But we often don’t see the connection between these things.
Leading a more spiritual life actually requires humble and honest introspection. That will kind of tell us quite a bit, if we are factually honest, and if we can disengage from our mind and all the swirling stuff going on there; if we can actually step back, we will be able to make this connection.
So, when it comes to life’s choices, whether you want to lead a really spiritually directed life or just generally you want to have a better life, it is like really, really important to let go of all the grievances, of the unhappiness, of all of the insecurities and the fears, and begin to adopt this idea: Where to from here? Where to from here? If we actually embrace that thinking, and if we adopt principles that are more spiritual in nature, then we will come to appreciate that what our life is going to look like going forward, and how it is going to end, what will be my experience of even that.
Sorry if that disturbs some people. It’s kind of like we have this little bit of a fantasy going on that—I was in Hamilton giving a talk a few weeks ago, and I said actually the motto is not, “All roads lead to Rome,” all roads lead to the cemetery. And it’s like, oh my God, that guy’s so brutal. But it’s a reality. We are transients. A spiritual understanding is that we are eternal spiritual beings, temporarily residing within this body. This body is not me, and the mind is not me, and I should be the one driving the bus. I should not cede control of my life’s choices and decisions to the whims of my mind and my emotions. I need to be actually in charge.
If I want to plot this course that: “Where to from here?” Then, I have to thoughtfully consider what will be my guidelines for living such a life. What’s going to keep me on course? What do I need to do to produce really wonderful outcomes in my lif, where I can actually come to the position of experiencing happiness, actual happiness, to feel filled with purpose and meaning, to experience the awakening of wonderful spiritual love? Then I need to plot a very purposeful course. I need to begin to act in a way that produces those outcomes.
And so, the real focus for everyone has to be, Where to from here? All the stuff that we’ve been through, all the stuff that is passed, that doesn’t change anything. That’s there. That’s there. And if I’m dwelling in it, it’s like—it’s so amazing how people spend so much time trying to change or wishing to change that which cannot change. Stuff that’s happened, that’s happened. It ain’t going to change. No matter how much you think about it and brood over it and complain or cry or whine and moan or get upset and angry, it ain’t gonna change. None of that’s going to change. Why be focused on that which you cannot change? Your life, the period of time that you have left in this particular body, in this journey, that, you have control over how that’s going to turn out, how that will proceed.
The main thing that will empower you to take control of your life and to make good decisions is the cultivation of this appreciation, understanding, and eventually a realization that I am an eternal spiritual being. Most people have no idea who they truly are. We accept the body and all the labels on the body as us. It aint. That aint you. That’s going to pass; you will not pass. You are eternal. Don’t get lost in the labels. Don’t seek validation, don’t seek purpose, don’t seek love, or feel your lovability or anything else is actually tied to how your body looks or what type of body you have. My God! That is a disaster on steroids. And the world is really rushing down that alleyway, and everybody’s getting mugged in the alleyway, because it’s a dark place.
When I cultivate an understanding of my actual spiritual identity of who I am, and I begin to live a life that is guided by spiritual principles, when I turn from being a taker to a giver, when my life is more focused upon showing kindness and appreciation and love of others, in a deep way, not a selfish way, your life can become extraordinarily wonderful in spite of the difficulties. Life is always going to be difficult; it’s the nature of existence in the material world, but you can let that affect you and control your life, or you can learn to transcend it, to be in the world but not of the world.
So, the cultivation of the spiritual understanding of my identity is the foundation for such a life. And the quickest way to become increasingly immersed in that appreciation and for it to become a realization—you know this word? Realization, self-realization, it means the reality, the experience of the reality of who you truly are as a spiritual being. The quickest way to experience this is through this process of daily bathing in these spiritual sounds, immersing yourself so it cleanses the heart and the mind and removes all of the pain and the bitterness and the sadness or emptiness or fearfulness.
And so we really encourage that you adopt—and if you want to know, we have lots of resources online, we have people here that are more than willing to share with you insights in how to build a personal spiritual practice around this process of chanting these sacred sounds, these holy names. And so I humbly beg from you that you actually consider this and that you act on it, because it is in your best interest.
Okay? That’s about all I got. So quiet in here. Too serious? Or it’s okay? It’s actually, it’s a relief to hear that which is true. As the old saying goes, “The truth shall set you free.” If you are experiencing pain and unhappiness in your life, it is always going to be because you are adopting something that is untrue. If you live by the actual truth, it is a monumental relief. It’s so wonderful.
Thank you very much.
Mantra choices, anyone? Aum Namo!? That might be a bit of a long one for people. I might do Aum Hari Aum.
You know, with these spiritual sounds, this is not a mental activity, this is an activity actually of the heart, to just let go and just immerse yourself as you would in a stream or the ocean on a hot day, or a lake, just immerse yourself in the spiritual waters of these transcendental sounds.